OpenAI averts internal crisis with return of CEO Sam Altman

The AI research firm is restoring Altman as CEO after his sacking last week threatened a mass exodus from the company.

FILE PHOTO: Sam Altman, CEO of Microsoft-backed OpenAI and ChatGPT creator speaks during a talk at Tel Aviv University in Tel Aviv, Israel June 5, 2023. REUTERS/Amir Cohen/File Photo
Sam Altman, CEO of Microsoft-backed OpenAI and ChatGPT creator [Amir Cohen/Reuters]

The co-founder of a leading US artificial intelligence firm is making a comeback to the company that terminated him as CEO last week, the latest twist in a week-long drama over its leadership.

OpenAI, which owns the popular chatbot ChatGPT, announced late on Tuesday on the social media platform X that it had reached “an agreement in principle” to bring back tech entrepreneur Sam Altman as CEO.

It also said it had reached a consensus on a “new initial board,” with members including former Salesforce co-CEO Bret Taylor, former US Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, and Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo.

Altman wrote on X he was “looking forward to returning to OpenAI, and building on our strong partnership with (Microsoft)”.

Internal turmoil

OpenAI’s board sacked Altman last week offering few reasons for the decision. A storm soon broke within the company. Hundreds of staff threatened to quit in solidarity with Altman and investors put pressure on the company to restore calm.

Microsoft, which has invested billions in OpenAI and has rights to its technology, announced it would hire Atlman to run a new artificial intelligence research team and welcomed any defecting OpenAI employees to switch over with him.

However, Altman said that he has the support of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella to return as OpenAI’s CEO under a new leadership structure.

Nadella welcomed the changes to OpenAI after the firm announced Altman’s return and the new initial board.

“We believe this is a first essential step on a path to more stable, well-informed, and effective governance,” Nadella wrote on X.


OpenAI’s flagship product is ChatGPT, an advanced language model-based chatbot that can generate articles, essays, jokes and even poetry in response to prompts.

Released to the public in November 2022, ChatGPT quickly gained global appeal, reaching more than 100 million monthly users in less than a year.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies